AVAHS | Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979) Review

Plot: A powerful ancient being named Winterbolt returns to the North Pole after being sent into a deep sleep for hundreds of years. He yearns to take down Santa for taking over the North Pole in his absence, but Rudolph’s shining red nose is getting in his way.

Breakdown: Readers! Guess what?! It’s that time of year again! It’s time for A Very Animated Holiday Special! This year, we’re starting out AVAHS with yet another Rankin/Bass classic, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.

I only very vaguely remember watching this movie when I was a kid. It was barely a blip on my Christmas movie radar, which kinda makes sense because, again, even though the movie is centered on Christmas, the title leads you believe this is a film best enjoyed in July when most people don’t think to celebrate the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing that I’m not even sure happens anywhere anymore and was barely a thing when it was a thing.

The movie starts out with teenage Rudolph (because Adult Rudolph just doesn’t exist anymore apparently) spending some time with Frosty and his two children, Chilly and Milly. Just to be clear, you have Frosty, Chilly, Frosty’s wife, Crystal, and then, randomly, Milly. Why is Milly the only one who isn’t given a snow/ice/cold themed name? Also, how did they make these kids? Did they just use snow or……….You know what, never mind.

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The kids ask their Uncle Rudolph if he’ll light up his nose for them, which he does, but then suddenly realizes the light is fading away.

After the opening song, we get some backstory about the North Pole.

Long before Santa made his way up there, the land was ruled by the fearsome tyrant, Winterbolt, who has a name that is way too cool (Pun not intended, but welcome). As you can guess, he’s a lot like Snow Miser. You might even say he’s exactly like Snow Miser….Or Jack Frost…..Or Stormella…..There are a lot of ice-controlling antagonists in Rudolph movies, is what I’m trying to say. Actually, being completely fair, but also calling them out a bit, Winterbolt looks exactly like an aged-down slightly Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.

He also has two ridiculously animated snow dragons, which I laughed at for several minutes. Look, I respect the hell out of stop motion animation, but the dragons seems to have just been ‘animated’ with strings and bouncing their heads up and down.

The Aurora Borealis, referred to as Lady Boreal, took corporeal human form when she got fed up with Winterbolt’s BS. Using her powerful magic, she forced Winterbolt into a deep slumber for however many years. In the meantime, the innocent animals were able to return to the land to live happily while Santa arrived with his wife and posse to establish his toy factory and become the Santa Claus we know and love.

Growing weak from all the years of using her magic to keep Winterbolt at rest, Lady Boreal starts to fade away from her human form, but she can rest easy knowing that Santa’s around to be a true leader to everyone at the North Pole.

As her grip on him weakens, Winterbolt awakens and catches up on the goings on at the North Pole via the genie that lives in his staff…..I know what I said. He’s appalled (or aPOLEd :D) to see Santa has taken over as leader or ‘king’ as he puts it, and is seemingly more powerful than him. He asks the genie what he can do about it.

The genie suggests that he use his snow dragons to make a powerful snow storm and wall of fog next Christmas Eve to get Santa hopelessly lost, making him unable to deliver the toys.

Winterbolt concocts his master plan – he’ll do as the genie instructs, but he’ll also go out and deliver twice as many toys on Christmas, causing the children of the world to love him so much that they become dependent on his deliveries and making him so powerful that he’ll

Lady Boreal hears his plot and, using the last of her power, gives some of her light to a newborn reindeer. That’s right – newborn baby Rudolph! Who…..has a red nose before Lady Boreal even gives him the power. So….he was born with a big red nose, but it only glowed because it was infused with Aurora Borealis magic….?

Here’s where they start losing me. They’re kinda retconning Rudolph’s origin here. Lady Boreal appears to Rudolph and gives him the light in his nose. Why it has to be in his clearly already gonna get him bullied red nose, I have no idea. Lady Boreal seems like a bit of a bitch here, if you ask me.

The power/light activates when he thinks good thoughts. The better his thoughts, the brighter the light shines. However, if he ever tries to use the power for evil purposes, the light will be extinguished forever. Lady Boreal also puts a neat snowflake and star design on the bottom of his hoof as a mark of the power or something….which I’m 99.9999% certain he doesn’t have in the original movie and 100% certain does not matter in any way, shape or form. It’s just kinda something he has now.

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Oh, by the way, none of this is being heard by Rudolph’s mom or dad because his mom is asleep because she’s exhausted from giving birth and Donner’s out with the guys doing…guy…reindeer….things…..games? So convenient. Or I guess I should say inconvenient. Hey Lady, maybe tell Santa or either of Rudolph’s parents that you’re giving him a magical power for the sake of saving Christmas in a year? So maybe they won’t ostracize him, his father won’t be ashamed of him and he won’t run away from home?

Lady Boreal: “Use your secret magic well.”

WHY IS IT SECRET?!

Jeez, this is Naruto all over again.

That’s another point – why isn’t she warning Santa of the storm? She’s just giving this flashlight power to a newborn reindeer who can’t even speak yet, nor will he probably be able to remember this conversation, and hoping for the best. She’s not even telling Rudolph about Winterbolt’s plan. Out of context, she’s just giving a random baby reindeer (who is still so adorable it hurts) the power to turn his nose into a laser pointer. You suck, Lady.

We get a brief retelling of Rudolph’s story that pretty much omits everything that’s not in the song. Makes out like Rudolph was just chillin’ in the stalls on Christmas Eve and Santa was like “Oh yeah, you have highbeams! Come with me, Rudolph!” And the movie based on these clips was probably like five minutes long.

Also, he’s still not adult Rudolph in that shot. They really didn’t want him to grow up.

Looping back around to the starting scene, Winterbolt is enraged that his plan failed because of Rudolph, so he decides to snuff out his light. However, Rudolph’s resolve is so powerful that it overcomes Winterbolt’s magic. Also, it seems like Rudolph is physically weakening as his light goes out, like he’s a Charizard or something. Will he die if his light goes out? He’s passing out because it’s flickering.

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Winterbolt’s genie tells him the only way to extinguish the light forever is if he gets Rudolph to use his powers for evil, even if it’s just once.

What powers, exactly? Rudolph has to power to create a mildly bright red light. How could that ever be used for evil?……I guess he could shine it into a cockpit and cause a Boeing to crash. Kinda dark there, Rankin/Bass.

Milton the Ice Cream Man pops by on his hot air balloon with bad news. He was going to marry his love, Lanie Loraine – a circus performer – right at her mother’s circus on the high wire, but a shady businessman named Sam Spangles came by during their wedding to buy out the circus. Lanie is so distraught that she can’t think about getting married, and if the circus gets sold, Sam will force her and her family to move all over the country, meaning she and Milton will likely never get married. They need to have a great performance on the Fourth of July to earn enough revenue to prevent Sam Spangles from buying them out on the sixth….however that works.

Okay, that’s sad, really, but, uh, this also doesn’t make any sense. Her being too sad or concerned to get married right now, I understand. But the idea that they’ll be torn asunder if her mother’s circus gets sold because they’ll be moving around a lot is just nonsensical.

First of all, do they not already move around a lot as a circus? Isn’t that just what circuses do?

Secondly, I really need to point out something extremely obvious right now….Milton is traveling to the North Pole from, what I’ve researched, his home somewhere in Florida…on a hot air balloon.

He’s doing this because he keeps his ice cream stock at the North Pole to keep it cold.

Because yes.

That.

Is the most logical solution to that issue. Do freezers not exist in the Rankin/Bassverse?

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Winterbolt uses magic snow to send psychic suggestions to Milton to get Rudolph to go to the circus to drum up customers. Crystal and the kids want to go, but Frosty points out the obvious that it will be the Fourth of July on the sea coast, meaning they’ll certainly be puddles if they go there. It sucks, but that’s the way of the snowpeople.

Crystal apologizes for making the suggestion, and apparently feels so bad about it that she feels the need to break out into song about how much she loves Frosty. It’s a fine song and sequence but a really weird way of seguing to it.

Rudolph comforts them and says they’re not misfits because they melt, but he does wish they could be unmeltable so they could come with him.

In comes Winterbolt, who is WAY bigger than I thought he’d be.

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He acts like an innocent frail old man and offers them a solution to their problem – four amulets that will make them virtually unmeltable, even in temperatures so high it’d melt steel. However, there’s a catch – each amulet has a design on it made out of F’s.

Frosty: “Yeah! F! F! F! F!” We get it, Frosty. You really want to pay your respects. Stop spamming.

The four F’s stand for when the Final Firework Fades on the Fourth, which is when the amulets’ power ceases to work and the snow family will melt unless they’re back in snowy lands by then.

As quickly as he arrived, Winterbolt vanishes, and the group all become excited about going to the circus.

……Uhm….I know this is for kids, I know, I do, but Frosty and the others are insanely naive right now. Like, how convenient, a strange giant ice wizard offers us the perfect solution to our fatal problem out of nowhere and without asking anything in return. Boy, this couldn’t be any more legitimate if we met him on Craigslist!

At least Santa is slightly suspicious of this situation, but not enough to stop them from going. Also, goddamn, this movie is from 1979 and Mickey Rooney already sounds like he’s in his 80s. I get that he’s trying to sound old because this is Santa, but he sounds really weak like Santa’s on his death bed. He was only 52 or so at the time.

Frosty is excited to go, but sad that they’ll have to leave before they see the fireworks or else they won’t be able to reach the North Pole in time. Santa believes all children should see fireworks at least once in their lives, so he starts thinking. Winterbolt takes his cue and sends a psychic magic snow message to Santa suggesting that he grab his sleigh and head down to the circus on the Fourth of July to pick up Frosty and his family right before the final firework goes off. I guess he moves so fast that he could get them back almost immediately?

…..Can’t they just have fireworks at the North Pole? Is that too simple? Why do you need to tempt fate like that?

After another song break where Milton sings the same song Crystal sang, only he’s singing his to a poster of Lanie, they head to the circus.

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When they arrive;

Lanie: “He’s the greatest ice cream man in the world!”

He travels 3813 miles via a hot air balloon every time he needs to restock on his ice cream (7626 miles round trip) because he thought storing his ice cream on a polar ice cap was better than buying a freezer.

No, he’s not the greatest ice cream man in the world.

After a song break about Christmas by Lanie’s mother, Lily, voiced by the legendary Ethel Merman, Winterbolt continues on with his plan by awakening his snow dragons and asking the genie to bring him a reindeer who is the polar opposite to Rudolph – terrible in every way. The genie directs him to the cave of lost rejections. There, Winterbolt recruits the reindouche, Scratcher, who blames Rudolph for taking his future spot on the team of Santa’s reindeer despite 1) he very obviously wouldn’t have been, considering he admits that he did a bunch of bad stuff that would have prevented from being promoted, and 2) Rudolph didn’t even take a spot on the team. Santa originally had a team of eight reindeer, but he took the lead as the ninth.

Cut back to the circus for another song break by Lily, this time about how life in the circus as its ups and downs, but she doesn’t care as long as she has her….guy? Guide? It’s hard to understand, and neither lyric really makes any sense. It’s a fine song, I just don’t understand why it’s here.

After going over the plan, Winterbolt gives Scratcher some magical feed corn before he heads off to meet Sam Spangles.

Scratcher: “Hey….that’s means I’ll be able to fly like Donner and Blitzen!”

I’m sorry….what? Now Santa’s reindeer only fly because of literal magic corn?

….I–…..magic…corn.

It’s magic….corn.

I always thought Santa’s reindeer could just fly naturally….Unless you’re a girl, of course. Then you’re just a dumb normal reindeer…..with a bow in your hair….or no identity besides being Mrs. Donner….Actually, they do claim that Santa’s team of reindeer are all, realistically, female because they have their antlers in winter when males lose their antlers at that time, and the females keep them all year round. I mean, that’s obviously not canon in this continuity, but it’s interesting all the same.

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We pop in for a really sweet scene between Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pack for their trip. Not sure why they need to pack if they’re just heading down there to rescue some snowpeople, but okay. They head off on their sleigh, and…I need to ask something awkward. Mrs. Claus refers to Santa as ‘Papa’, Santa calls her ‘Mama’ and they just called the elves ‘Little Kringles’….Are….the elves….their children?

As Santa and Mrs. Claus depart, Winterbolt uses his snow dragons to implement his plan. He will create a storm of ice and fog even worse than the Christmas Eve where Rudolph saved the day. Santa and Mrs. Claus get caught up in the storm, and it’s so severe that a frickin’ ice tornado forms and sucks the sleigh into the vortex.

Santa: “If only Rudolph were here!”

Yeah, he could….uhm…..give us a pretty red light to look at while we’re still being sucked into the tornado because that’s literally his only power.

Also, do the reindeer no longer possess the ability to talk? All of them seem so dead-eyed and aren’t reacting at all to Santa’s directions. Not even Donner is saying anything. He did talk in the flashback, but that’s it.

Santa sings a sweet song to Mrs. Claus about how much he loves her in order to comfort her as they wait in the eye of the storm. Mrs. Claus suggests they try to hoof it (literally) on the ground instead of trying to fly through the storm, and Santa agrees.

Back in the circus, they’re holding a parade, accompanied by another song sung by Lily, which is pretty catchy and definitely parade-y. Crystal tells Frosty to smile because you’re supposed to smile when you’re in show business, but he clearly is smiling….Anyhoo, the reason he’s invisibly not smiling is because he’s worried that Santa won’t arrive in time. However, his family assuages his fears, for the most part.

Meanwhile, Scratcher meets up with Rudolph and convinces him to get him a job with the circus by pretending he’s starving, putting Winterbolt’s plan into motion.

Winterbolt himself is moving out with his own brand-new ice sleigh complete with a team of giant flying snow snakes, which is too awesome to poke fun at even a little. They also give Winterbolt his own ‘evil’ version of Santa’s take off manta.

“To the top of the porch,

to the top of the wall!

Now slink away, slink away, slink away all!”

…….Yeah, I think we need to workshop that.

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The circus is underway, and Frosty and family take their positions to do their act.

Chilly: “Stick to the script, Daddy.”

Frosty: “If Santa doesn’t get here soon, we’ll be sticking to everything!”……What?

Scratcher tries to lure Rudolph over to a tent by pretending he needs his red nose to see in there and retrieve something, and Rudolph agrees, but like…could Rudolph not just tell him to go get a flashlight or something?

Rudolph has to go do his act, so he leaves Scratcher, promising to help him afterward.

Rudolph’s act is to burn off a shroud of fog…..I guess it’s to replicate what he did for Santa, but he didn’t burn off the fog….I don’t even think that’s a thing you can do (and why do the movies keep wanting to push the idea that Rudolph’s nose also gives off a lot of heat? If his nose really is the power of the Aurora Borealis, it shouldn’t be emitting any heat.) He was just a light that Santa used to see through the storm.

Once he’s done with that, Rudolph returns to Scratcher to help him find what he’s looking for. Scratcher tricks Rudolph into stealing a suitcase full of money, the funds collected from the day’s show, from Lily’s wagon. Rudolph’s very suspicious, but does the deed anyway.

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I really really needed to post this screencap. I feel better now. Thank you derp-face Rudolph.

After a pretty cool Christmas show back at the circus, complete with Rudolph’s nose making the star on top of the Christmas tree, everyone gets set for the fireworks. Frosty’s so concerned that Santa won’t arrive in time that he rushes to stop them from being set off, but it’s too late. Lily lit the main fuse, and the fireworks sequence can’t be stopped once that’s done. There are 100 fireworks in total, and, for some reason, they’re wired to go off one at a time like once every few seconds. Kinda sounds like a crappy fireworks show, but I get that it’s moreso designed to raise tension with Frosty and his family’s situation.

Speaking of their situation, there aren’t really any stakes here, right? In the original Frosty the Snowman movie, Frosty melted in a hot greenhouse, but he was revived because he was made of magic Christmas snow. All he needed was to return to the cold and put his hat back on. I don’t know what exactly is the magical life item for all of the other snowpeople (Crystal was shown to be brought to life by a kiss on the cheek by Frosty) but I assume that the situation is the same for all of them. Melting isn’t necessarily a death sentence for them, so why do they seem like they’re all heading for the pearly gates? Just wait for the final firework while sitting in a few tubs or buckets, make sure someone has all of your personal/magical effects and you’ll be fine, right? Or maybe just remove the 100th firework from the platform somehow?

Winterbolt shows up as the fireworks start winding down. They beg him to extend the power of the magical amulets a while longer so Frosty and the others won’t melt. Winterbolt agrees, but only if Rudolph’s nose remains extinguished. Rudolph is confused because he believes his nose isn’t currently extinguished, but when he tries to light it he realizes that Winterbolt is right – his light is gone.

The reason being – he stole the money from the circus. Since that’s an evil deed that he technically performed while using his nose light, it has been extinguished.

I’m calling foul on that. Sure, he did a bad thing, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He didn’t have evil intentions and was being manipulated. I really don’t think that should count. Also, he didn’t actually use his nose for evil. He just used it to see what he was being tricked into stealing.

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He says he’ll clear things up with Lily to seemingly make everything better and get his nose to light up, but Winterbolt won’t help Frosty and his family unless Rudolph takes the blame. I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t it just be bad enough that he did the deed not that he’s taking the blame for it? I was confused earlier too because he stole the money but his nose still lit up at the finale of the circus. Was the deed only bad when it got discovered?

Rudolph goes to take the blame for the theft, devastating Lily and making Rudolph incredibly guilty and sad. To make matters worse, Crystal now doesn’t want Chilly and Milly associating with their Uncle Rudolph anymore because he’s now a criminal.

Frosty feels awful, Rudolph feels awful, that snowflake star mark thing on Rudolph’s hoof is gone, I still don’t get what the point of that was, and to its credit, this was a genuinely sad scene.

Winterbolt and Scratcher fly off to take over the North Pole now that Rudolph’s nose is out. Meanwhile…I guess there’s another show the following night? And Rudolph humiliates himself by not being able to light his nose for the audience, who proceed to boo him off stage.

Rudolph’s existence is so sad. First he’s hated because of his glowing red nose, then he’s heralded as a hero because of his glowing red nose, now he’s back to being hated because he can’t make his red nose glow. It sucks so much that public opinion on Rudolph is so largely dependent on his nose. Like no one cares that he’s a hero or can frickin’ fly or even that he personally knows Santa – it’s all just the nose for all of these ungrateful bastards.

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Everyone else in the circus understandably hates Rudolph now, and Rudolph walks off to sing a sad song called A Bed of Roses. It’s my favorite song of the lot, but I did have a giggle at Rudolph with red glitter all over his face. I mean, it’s very sad that he’s just trying to replicate the glow of his nose, but it looks like he snorted glitter.

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By the way, Rudolph was clearly very weak when his light was fading in the beginning of the movie. Now he loses it entirely and he’s completely fine.

Frosty is so guilty about what happened to Rudolph that he wonders if there’s something he could do to help Rudolph without putting his family in harm’s way. Winterbolt hears his plight, but doesn’t think Frosty has anything of benefit to take from him. His genie, however, informs him of Frosty’s trademark hat. Winterbolt believes that he could use Frosty’s hat, replicate the life-granting magic from within, and create his own army of living snowmen.

They animate this imagery in an interesting way. I’m pretty sure they only animated one snowman soldier, but they used mirrors to replicate the animated image to make it look like there were many.

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The main reason this is appealing to Winterbolt is because getting rid of Frosty means getting rid of the only other person who knows the truth about the theft.

Can I ask a question? Why can’t Rudolph just bring Frosty and co. To the North Pole via Milton’s hot air balloon and then tell everyone what happened? It’s not like Winterbolt put a curse on Rudolph to forever extinguish his light. He just agreed to never get it back to save Frosty, but if Frosty and his family are no longer in danger then he doesn’t need to keep his end of the bargain.

Winterbolt’s plan has so many holes in it that Spongebob’s jealous.

Couldn’t he have saved himself a lot of trouble and just frozen Rudolph in some sort of super unmeltable ice? He has access to that because that’s supposedly what Frosty and his family are with those amulets on.

Back with Rudolph, Lady Boreal, still in her light form, comforts Rudolph, telling him that she watches over him and he should be brave as he protects the helpless. If he is brave, his snowflake and star mark and his glowing red nose will return.

Wait…..so…Lady Boreal knows that Rudolph didn’t do anything wrong and only said he did because he was protecting Frosty….So why he did his light go away!?

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Big Ben, the whale with a clock on his tail from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, suddenly pops up in the ocean near Rudolph and offers a shoulder (or fin) to cry on. After hearing his story, Ben rushes off to South America, much to Rudolph’s confusion.

Meanwhile, Winterbolt is making his deal with Frosty. He tells Frosty that, in exchange for his hat, he’ll turn Rudolph’s nose light back on, but he’s lying of course.

Frosty sings one last romantic song to Crystal, who doesn’t know he’s doing this and isn’t in the room.

Gotta say, while some of these sweet romantic musical numbers are nice, they’re getting to a point where the movie is oversaturated with them. Each pairing has like two romantic song breaks (Frosty and Crystal are on their third or fourth right now), and there’s no point in them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very sweet, but they pump the brakes on the entire movie and aren’t very interesting. At least this one is about saying goodbye to her (and their kids) but still.

I also find it funny that we have all of these romantic pairings getting focus, but Rudolph only gets a brief shot of a picture of Clarice cut into a heart with the words “Love you, Clarice.” on it.

As Crystal and the kids weep over Frosty’s….corpse? Rudolph chases after Winterbolt to get the hat back.

Insert Rudolph vs. Flying magical snow snake scene here and soak it in. It is marvelous.

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So is this.

Winterbolt: “You don’t frighten me! The hat is mine! Try and get it!”

*Rudolph easily headbutts Winterbolt in the stomach*

Winterbolt: “Oof!”

*drops hat*

That could not have been more hilarious if you tried.

Also, Rudolph in Frosty’s hat is too adorable for words.

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Rudolph’s act of bravery allows him to get his light and little hoof mark back. I don’t know how or why. If he really did perform an evil deed with his nose light and that’s why it went out, which, as indicated by the mark also going away, is indeed what happened, then, by Lady Boreal’s wording, it should have been gone forever. If it wasn’t and never should have been taken in the first place, what was the point of the past half hour?

Rudolph heads off to set things straight. He gets a real cop to return the money (how did he find that?) to Lily, explains that he was tricked, and they returns Frosty’s hat and life back to him. Everyone makes up, Sam Spangle gets sent to prison and Frosty and Rudolph reprise the misfit song from the original movie.

However, Winterbolt’s not done. He wants his revenge on Rudolph and Frosty. Lily steps up to the plate and, I’m not kidding, throws her guns at Winterbolt’s ice staff and shatters it, causing his power to deplete and then he turns into a tree.

Okay…so….first of all, Winterbolt’s magical ice staff can be broken if someone throws a couple revolvers at it?

Secondly, that was the source of all of his power? He wasn’t just powerful on his own?

Third, how is it that Lady Boreal never thought to break or steal his staff? Why put him in a deep sleep and deplete your own energy for how many hundreds/thousands of years instead of just taking a baseball bat to that staff? Do it while he’s sleeping!

Fourth, taking away his power kills him? If that’s true, why wouldn’t he take more measures to protect that staff? He has his own amazing ice powers and a magical genie that lives within the staff. There’s no reason this thing isn’t protected by a barrier or something.

Fifth, why a tree? I could understand him melting as he loses his power and dies, he’s an ice wizard and everything, but why does he turn into a tree? A dead one, I might add, so he is definitely dead. They even have one of his arm/branches snap afterward.

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Lily: “Wow! Hehe, what an exit!” You just took a life.

With Winterbolt out of the way, the storm clears, allowing Santa and Mrs. Claus to safely fly again and head to the circus.

But also the other obvious thing happens – Frosty and his family melt because the amulets worked off of Winterbolt’s magic and he’s dead now.

Good job, Lily.

When will your murder spree end?!

Rudolph: “Gee whiz….”

Old phrases really seem goofy sometimes. “Well, gosh, it sure is awful that two adults and two children just died horrifically and now we’re gazing upon their liquified remains. Golly gee.”

Seriously, it was bad enough to see Frosty as a lifeless snowman or to see his or Crystal’s puddles with their hat and hair on top, but it’s borderline morbid to see Chilly and Milly’s puddles with their hat and bow on top.

Rudolph: “When Frosty melts, nothing can help except a magic December wind to help him, and this is July!”

Hold up. When did the qualifier of ‘December’ wind get squeaked in there? I thought it was just any cold temperature on his magic snow body.

Big Ben arrives with a special guest, Jack Frost, who was hanging out in South America where winter goes during the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere. Jack Frost resurrects Frosty and his family with his frigid breath right as Santa arrives to pick them up. Jack Frost joins them in order to keep the snowpeople family cool during their trip.

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Rudolph has to stay behind to help with the shows until the circus is out of debt (I could swear this started out as a ‘one show to save us’ type deal, but okay) but Santa says he’ll be back soon because he gave some of his magic feed corn to Lily to allow her animals to fly, so she’ll be sure to drum up a lot of business quickly.

What happens when she runs out, though? How long do the effects of that stuff last?

We close out on the entire flying circus being lead by Rudolph flying around as Santa, Frosty and the others depart.

Milton and Lanie seem to be poised to be wed once more, and everyone lives happily ever….well, we never learn what happened to Scratcher. He could be trapped in Winterbolt’s cave lair for all eternity…..Happily ever after! The end.

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Well…..that was a mess. Nothing made me angry or anything, but I did get incredibly confused along the way. So much of the story just seemed completely pointless and like they were overcomplicating what should have been a very easy plan.

I don’t much care for the fact that they basically confirmed that the stakes in this movie were fake by having Frosty and his family melt in the end even after Winterbolt died just to go ‘Oh we can bring them back!’ Even if Jack Frost didn’t make a cameo, they could have just scooped up the water in the puddles and taken it back to the North Pole or South America/some other location experiencing winter at the time, if that was necessary.

The aspect of Rudolph’s nose light being extinguished also made no sense. It didn’t follow any of the rules Lady Boreal set for the power. It went away for no reason and came back when it should have been gone forever if it did get taken away.

It’s a shame because Winterbolt is a fairly good villain. He has strong presence, a decent, but possibly mostly recycled, design, and I love all of his snow creatures and his genie, but he’s just kinda dumb. He’s all-powerful being who had a firm grip on the entire North Pole for hundreds or thousands of years. He was so powerful that an Aurora Borealis demi-god had to expend most of her power just keeping him asleep for however long.

Yet he had to jump through so many hoops simply to get a reindeer out of the way.

And he was felled because a circus owner threw guns at him.

Not to mention that this comes at the expense of kinda ruining Rudolph’s backstory. So now instead of him having this glowing red nose on complete random circumstance, he was given this light as a sort of destiny thing to defeat Winterbolt when he made his attack on Christmas. And she had to make it super secret for literally no reason, leaving Rudolph open to ridicule for years and putting Santa in danger. All she needed to do was tell Santa about the upcoming storm, explain that she put her power in a reindeer’s sinuses and that, as long as he stays there and happy, everything will be cool.

But no.

This movie feels like it has no direction. Half the time it’s Winterbolt and his already ridiculous plan, and the rest is filled with random love songs and stuff that is cool to look at usually but isn’t contributing much to the story.

If you just want a dose of Rudolph and Frosty for Christmas or…Summer, I guess, then this will do fine. There are numerous sweet, funny and heartwarming moments scattered throughout. But, as a whole, and even just compared to the other Rankin/Bass specials, this isn’t anything to write home about at best and is pretty frustratingly nonsensical at worst. I give a lot of leeway to Rankin/Bass specials in terms of logic, but this went pretty damn far.


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AVAHS Finale – Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was an adult on Christmas Eve.

What the hell’s with these sequels?

They don’t get continuity.

I guess I can justify it,

Young Rudolph sells more toys.

Parents, go out and buy one

for all your little girls and boys.

Rudolph needs more stuff to do, so he’s going after New Years now.

Franchises aren’t a brand new thing – this is a 60’s 70s cash cow.

Maybe I’m exaggerating – they probably didn’t know.

That in 40 years Rudolph would become,

a retail nostalgia ho!

Breakdown: We haven’t done enough Rudolph this year, right? Plus, this is pretty much one of the only New Years animated specials in existence. As many times as I’ve watched Rudolph, I don’t give as much attention to Shiny New Year. I still watch it fairly regularly on the holidays, but, truth be told, I usually forget to watch it before the holidays are over. I usually have to catch it in passing on ABC Fam…Freeform or ABC or something.

Twelve years after the release of the first movie, Rudolph, who has undergone de-aging surgery between when he left to deliver presents with Santa and when he came back home, is tasked with finding Happy, the baby new year. He’s gone missing, and without him the new year will never come. It will just be December 31st forever.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 1

I want to question so much about what that really means. Will the earth halt in its orbit? Will calendars be unable to show future days? Will all of the pre-printed calendars for next year vanish? Will the day just repeat itself, like Groundhogs Day? Will time and space warp around us? Isn’t everything fine as long as Happy is alive? Shouldn’t Happy be born on January 1st? When was Happy born if not the start of the next year? Is there really a press of time if December 31st will keep happening until Happy is found? Pretty sure we can survive a few December 31sts.

The only person who can go out and look for Happy is Rudolph because the storm from Christmas is still going on. Why Rudolph has to go by himself without Santa or anyone else is beyond me. Seems really irresponsible considering Rudolph’s basically a fawn again.

While he goes out by himself, he’s eventually joined by General Ticker – a character that literally comes out of nowhere. He suddenly appears by Rudolph’s side when Father Time (Who strangely carries around a scythe for no reason. Is he standing in for death?) narrates that he was soon joined by him. This movie will be less than ten minutes long if you just keep narrating things into existence.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 2

Here’s something to rejoice about, though – Rudolph’s nose no longer makes that horrible noise! YAY!

When they reach the desert, they’re met by Quarter Past Five, a camel with a clock shoved in its back…..I don’t understand this character’s concept, but whatever.

The big bad in this movie is Aeon the Terrible – basically a giant vulture. He’s not nearly as terrifying as Bumble, but he does the job.

Aeon’s on the hunt for Happy because he’s a creature that only lives for one eon. After that eon, he turns to ice and snow. His eon just happens to be up at the end of this year, so he’s searching for Happy to ensure that the next year never comes.

Through a nice but rather forgettable song break by Father Time, we learn that the baby New Year is actually Father Time. It starts out every year as a baby and grows throughout the year until it’s reached old age in December, where another baby New Year is born and starts the process over again.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 3
And for a few months he turns into a girl.

I really like this explanation of Father Time and the baby New Year. With the confusion from earlier, it’s nice to see something like this that makes a lot of sense. I was worried the baby New Year was just a novelty to herald in the new year. Speaking of which, they make a nice workaround to mentioning the ball drop in Time’s Square by saying there’s an identical event just with the ball called ‘the magical diamond’.

Now let’s get back to things about this story that don’t make sense to me. Father Time explains that Happy ran away after some people in the castle laughed at him for his big ears.

While it’s obvious that the baby New Year ages much faster than a normal child, are you seriously telling me this baby, who should be essentially new born age, has the cognitive capacity to understand that people are laughing at and mocking his ears? And that he understood this to a point where he rationalized his only option as running away?….And that he was able to run away as a new born baby? In a massive dessert? And not die? How poorly are you watching this incredibly important infant anyway?

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 4
Thank God I’m being watched by the parents from Rugrats.

Rudolph asks where he might go and Father Time says Nanny Nine O’Clock mentioned that he always wanted to go to the archipelago of last years—alright now you’re just making stuff up. This baby not only knew what an archipelago was, knew there was one for the previous years, and had a wish to see it too?….and shared it with others? When he can’t talk?

The islands are the homes of all the previous Father Times from the years that has passed. Each island stays frozen in time for the year that the specific Father Time reigned. When their last day of the year comes up, they retire to that island.

He sends Rudolph off, again, by himself. I can understand why Quart isn’t going, he’s too big, but why isn’t Ticker coming?

He’s directed to the islands through what is probably the stupidest method of directing someone I’ve ever seen. There’s a sundial on a beach with a hand pointing out into the ocean, and that’s the way he’s meant to go…..NOOOOOOOOOOO. Really?! He’s meant to find these ISLANDS out in the OCEAN? I thought they’d be underground. It’d be different if you could take the sundial and it directed you as you traveled, but it just stays on the beach.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 5
Someone’s screwing with me, right?

Not only that, but how is he supposed to ensure that he stays straight ahead in the boat? Especially when the designs are so wonky that it looks like Rudolph has no other view besides the back of the sail during the whole trip. On the calmest ocean ever.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 6

Rudolph gets attacked by Aeon and gives off the angriest look I’ve ever seen a reindeer give.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 7
His nose is red from the blood of his enemies.

He’s saved by Big Ben, a whale with a clock on its tail. Okay, you’re really just shoving clocks onto animals and calling it a day, aren’t you Father Time? Rudolph hitches a ride on the whale, and no, they never explain why Rudolph can’t just fly everywhere. He just flew around the world in a night, but he has one week to find this baby who might be in mortal danger and he’s literally hoofing it everywhere.

To be completely honest, the next ten minutes is just padding. Rudolph, Big Ben, OM (One Million – the first Father Time), and Sir 1023 (A knight, the Father Time from 1023, which is apparently when every fairy tale ever told took place) just search through the various years for Happy with little actually happening. They even take a detour for them to reenact, beat by beat, the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, just with Happy taking the role of Goldilocks.

The central theme of each place they visit is that Happy makes friends with the people there and then they see his giant ears, laugh and he leaves again.

Aeon grabs him, and Rudolph and the others quickly run after him and knock Happy from his clutches. He saves himself in the fall with his hat as a parachute, only to lose him again in a freak gust of wind that carries him off.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 8

Happy meets another Father Time, this time a Benjamin Franklin look-alike called 1776 or Sev for short. In the island of 1776, every day is the Fourth of July. Don’t question it – just accept it.

Also, if there’s one thing I want to listen to in a New Year’s special or a subset of a holiday special, it’s song about the Fourth of July. Save it for Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, please.

At this point, I’m really having a hard time believing that this baby who can’t even walk keeps outrunning Rudolph and the gang. Again, would be really useful for you to fly, buddy.

He’s kidnapped by Aeon again. Rudolph and the Father Times can follow him at night because Rudolph’s nose glows. Gotta keep giving that thing purpose. It’s a glorified tiny flashlight that would actually be insanely difficult to deal with in real life due to the red color, but it’s his schtick.

Aeon has taken Happy to his nest on the frigid Island with No Name. As Rudolph and the others climb the mountain to get to the nest, Aeon shrieks and causes an avalanche, encasing them all in balls of snow.

Rudolph is able to break free because of the heat from his nose—oh come on! You can’t add powers to this thing. Even if his nose did emit heat under the logic that the energy used to make the light also creates heat, it’s about the size of a grape. He’d have to have a laser nose for that to even begin to work.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 9
Rudolph was born on Krypton….we mentioned that in the last movie, right?

With Aeon fast asleep, Rudolph climbs the mountain to get to Hap—uh, Rudy, aren’t you forgetting something?…..Freeing the other Father Times?…..Let them freeze to death? Okay….Wait, what happens a Father Time dies? Are we putting the space/time continuum at jeopardy here?

He tries to connect with Happy by showing him his nose and saying he used to be made fun of for it too, but now it doesn’t bother him. The current Father Time explains that Rudolph was too modest to tell his own story so the wind, trees and mountains helped him out by singing his song. I’ll only forgive this weirdness because it’s accompanied by a rather cute, but crude, traditionally animated version of Rudolph’s story….though that also begs the question of why is this part in traditional animation?

I’m redacting some of my forgiveness because holy hell, they made Santa look horrifying.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 10
Totally get the Santa=Satan thing now.

Rudolph tries really hard to not make it sound like ‘I gained social acceptance because my deformity proved to be useful’ and gives Happy a pretty cute wink.

I can’t really avoid the message of the movie anymore, so here goes. Rudolph laughs at Happy’s ears when he shows them but then explains that he wasn’t trying to be cruel – he was just filled with so much happiness when he saw them that he couldn’t contain it anymore. No one that he had met with was being cruel either – they felt the same way.

Obviously, this movie was making another go at the message of accepting your differences and those of others and celebrating what makes you special, but this just seems weird to me. Are you seriously trying to tell people who have been laughed at for their differences that the people weren’t being mean, they were just really happy? Hey, Rudolph, remember when you were laughed at all the time for your nose? Do you reckon those people were really happy or just dicks? Because I remember a whole lot of dickery.

I’m just…kinda confused on how to take this. On one hand, I can sorta see how telling a kid this would be a good coping mechanism for when they get laughed at. On the other hand, you’re condoning mocking by excusing it as pure happiness. Most people who laugh at others for their differences aren’t laughing because they’re filled with happiness – like I said, it’s likely because they’re showing their dickish side. They may not mean to hurt the other person’s feelings, but the fact of the matter is that the source of the humor is coming from the oddity. Even people who can laugh at themselves for their differences can still feel a pang of hurt when someone else laughs at them for it.

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 11
He’s adorable, though.

Aeon wakes up, and Rudolph tells Happy to take off his hat. When Aeon sees his ears, he breaks down in laughter.

Father Time: “Well, it’s the first time that monstrosity ever laughed in his life. He laughed so hard that he laughed himself right out of his nest. He laughed right down the side of that mountain….”

And broke his spine in several places on all of those jagged rocks he is clearly hitting his back on.

Rudolph: “Old Aeon won’t give us any trouble now. He’s cured for good. Heck, nobody can turn to snow and ice when he’s all warmed up inside with laughing.”

How do you know that he’s cured? How do you know he won’t turn around and peck your nose off? It’s not THAT funny – he’ll stop eventually. Are you for real about that warmth from laughing thing? Because my bullshit meter’s having a fit. They’re seriously saying this creature who’s been reigning terror on the sands of time and the archipelago of last years since the beginning of an eon suddenly was filled with happiness and will never be bad again because he laughed a baby’s big ears? What?

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 12
Too adorable.

Midnight strikes and they panic because Happy’s not back with Father Time. Rudolph wonders how they’ll manage to get Happy back before the twelfth bong of the clock when Santa suddenly shows up with his magic sleigh and flying reindeer and a slue of shit that would’ve been extremely helpful FIVE DAYS AGO.

He offers them all a ride, and I’m still calling foul because by the time they all got in that sleigh that clock would’ve definitely hit it’s final bong. Someone get the TARDIS. Actually, you really do need the TARDIS because midnight doesn’t start on the final bong of a clock – it starts when the clock hits midnight, which is when the bongs start. The bongs aren’t a countdown to midnight. You’re going to get there right before 12:01.

Santa does justify his ability to get there in time by saying he travels the world in one night so this isn’t a problem, but we’re watching in real time – the disbelief has to be sent into orbit. Also, again, that ability really would’ve been helpful for the past FIVE DAYS. Is saving the world from eternal December 31st not important enough to get you off your ass until you’ve had nearly a week’s worth of naps and cookies or something?

AVAHS - Shiny New Year 13
Ho ho ho! My presence in this movie completely destroys the fabric of the plot.

Happy rings in the new year. Rankin/Bass do their damnedest to make this timeless by saying his year is 19-wonderful, but, sorry fellas, we’re in 20-eh-well-we’re-getting-by-it’s-alright-sometimes.

As the movie concludes, we’re played out by the only fairly memorable song of the movie – Happy New Year.

The End.

————————–

Forgive me if this review seemed a tad harsher than it needed to be. I’m always a bit of a grump on New Years. At this point in the year, I’m still bitter that the Christmas season is over and I never really look forward to the new year.

My sour grapes aside, this isn’t a bad special – it’s just not that good. It definitely has its interesting concepts in regards to the Father Times and baby new years and even the archipelago of last years. However, it doesn’t really have nearly as much charm as the Rudolph special and a lot of it seems like padding.

Some of the new characters were nice, like Big Ben, but the other Father Times had absolutely no purpose besides a duty to find the baby new year. They contributed nothing. Big Ben was basically just the movie’s Lapras, Quart was also only useful as transportation. Everyone else was just there.

Plus, even for a movie set in this universe, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make any sense. A lot of the nonsensical decisions seem like they were made purely for plot convenience as well.

The music was fine. None of it was bad, but the only song I ever bothered to remember over the years was ‘Happy New Year’.

The moral of the movie is either terrible or insanely confusing. Were wires crossed or is this just a bad message to give kids? Notice how no one laughed at Happy in the very end. Shouldn’t apologies have been made? Shouldn’t Happy have been shown happily sharing the happiness with his huge ears and the happy laughter of non-dickishness that everyone would’ve been sure to give?

I do like how previous years and snippets of time were shown to give nods to how each new year is different and brings about major changes in the world, but they didn’t seem like they knew the asset they had with this because they don’t take the time to properly appreciate each time period. One Million years ago is just one big unrelated song number. 1023 is skimmed over for the sake of exaggerated olde English and exploring a lot of fairy tales. 1776 is literally one big Fourth of July party, which takes away from the immersion significantly.

I really like what they were trying to do with this movie, especially since most New Years specials, the few there are, typically focus on that tradition of kissing someone when the ball drops. Having a special that aims to do something creative for the holiday is a much needed breath of fresh air.

I’m very uncertain over whether Rudolph was necessary here. It seems like they were jumping through hoops to justify why he and he alone needed to find Happy. However, I do love Rudolph and it’s nice to see him on screen, so I can’t complain too much.

Lastly, despite having no lines besides saying ‘Happy’ at the end, Happy is a very adorable little baby. I wouldn’t have laughed at his ears. They make him even cuter.

This is definitely something nice to show the kids around new years, especially since, if they’re anything like my parents were, they won’t be allowed to stay up until midnight so practically every new years celebration is barred from them until their teens or so. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia for adults, and it can be a fun ride sometimes, but it just doesn’t have a lot of substance.

And with that I close out this year’s A Very Animated Holiday Special. I hope everyone enjoyed the entries this year, had a happy holiday season and will have a great new year. 🙂